On this episode of Reality Cast, Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute will be on to discuss the institute’s latest research on abortion. Republicans campaigned on repeal and replace, and it looks like they can’t do the former and have no intention of doing the latter. And a segment on Bill O’Reilly’s irrational and hysterical reaction to the MTV abortion documentary.
Promises from politicians: easy to make, easier to break. Tim Pawlenty provided an excellent example recently, when he was being interviewed by the AFA’s Bryan Fischer.
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By the time that possibility rolls around, it will have been overturned for so long that repealing it will be super unpopular, and that alone would suggest he’d just let it go. But more than that, the repeal was an act of Congress, so it’s not like he could just do it by himself. This promise was broken before it was made.
By March 2010, Republicans were already trotting out “repeal and replace” as a line for addressing health care reform, because, as progressives like myself predicted, it turned out that people actually like health care reform once they learn what’s in it. Therefore, a straight repeal wasn’t going to poll well, and Republicans had to float the assumption that repeal attempts would somehow reinstate the parts of the plan people like, which is most of them. But, it’s been fairly obvious from day one of Republicans taking over that the replace part of the “repeal and replace” mantra was never seriously considered. And if asked about it directly, conservative pundits like Bill Kristol have gone into dodge and deflect mode.
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Get that? Juan Williams asked Kristol what they want to replace it with, and Kristol, instead of answering the question, said that health care proponents shouldn’t want to talk about it. Because apparently it’s unpopular, though of course it’s not if you actually get into the nitty-gritty. Democrats want to talk about it, because repeal means that you get to go on TV and say, truthfully, that Republicans want to make it legal for insurance companies to kick you off for getting sick, and they want to take away your kids’ health insurance the second they graduate college. People aren’t going to like that, and that’s why Republicans brought up this “replace” language, even though the bill that’s actually floated is just a repeal bill.
It’s particularly an impolitic time to do this when unemployment is really high and the legislators themselves are not the ones who will be facing the loss of health insurance if this happens. This opens them up to charges of hypocrisy, of saying that government-backed health insurance is good enough for them, but not for anyone else. This has given liberal reporters a chance to make congressmen squirm, as one reporter did to Ron Paul, asking him about the $700 a month health care subsidy congresspeople and their staffs get that is not going to be touched by repeal.
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Congress members make more money than the average American, and therefore are more, not less, able to pay for insurance out of pocket instead of having the government subsidize it. Granted, they are just getting the same work benefit most working people do, but that rationale is harder to justify with our staggering unemployment problem. And the squirming when Think Progress reporters approached them demonstrates this. Rep. Robert Hurt justifying why he deserves health insurance with taxpayer dollars but you don’t was particularly silly.
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Of course, most people without insurance work or, if they don’t, they would like to work. So hiding behind this job thing doesn’t make sense, particularly since the talking point was to rail against taxpayers subsidizing health care. If you’re against taxpayers subsidizing health care, the first person you should put on the chopping block, as an act of good faith, should be yourself.
The narrative of not jumping the gun and repealing health care reform is beginning to take hold in the populace. For instance, Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio went in front of a town hall and found that they were way more defensive of their new rights and entitlements under health care reform than he expected, when one man got up in his face about it with a crowd behind him.
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In a sense, this is all theoretical and ideological anyway. The House can pass repeal, and get all their votes on the record, and then watch it die in the Senate. That’s about the sum of what’s going to happen here.
Ruh-roh. A few weeks ago, I reported on MTV doing an abortion special called “No Easy Decision” that explored, with honesty and grace, the experiences of three women who chose abortion as teenagers. The show wasn’t really taking a political stance in the most direct sense. The legality of abortion wasn’t discussed much, except for one woman talking about having to get a judicial bypass to get an abortion. But it is true that portraying women who have abortions as human beings whose choices are understandable and whose sexuality is just a fact of life is a political act. Anti-choicers are invested in demonizing women who have abortions as stupid sluts who only get abortions because they don’t know any better. The truth that women know full well what they’re doing is an assault on their political views, even if that truth is stated in an apolitical fashion. So, it’s unsurprising that anti-choicers went on the attack after the show was aired.
Bill O’Reilly, who really loves playing the “kids these days” card and the hating female sexuality card, was not going to let this opportunity pass. What’s amusing is O’Reilly and his two guests can’t tell the difference between having an abortion and having sex.
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The distinction between getting pregnant and having an abortion is completely lost here. I also dug up this Christian Science Monitor article they talk about which says that reality programming about teen pregnancy has reduced the teen pregnancy rate, and I would say that it may not, because the only thing they reference is the teen birth rate. Again, that’s a different rate than the pregnancy rate, as a lot of teen pregnancies are aborted. Both rates are down, and mostly that has to do with contraception use being up. But when O’Reilly is screeching about how this glamorizes abortion, he’s collapsing the distinctions here, in a deliberate attempt to raise the hysteria levels.
He also is collapsing the distinction between abortion, pregnancy, and sex because he wants to make this all about the bad girls having sex and distract the audience from the sober realities of young women trying to raise babies.
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First of all, O’Reilly is lying. The show dwelt extensively on contraception, which is something that teed anti-choice activists off as well. They maybe didn’t address it in the scolding, finger-shaking way he’d prefer, but they did address it in a way that is actually more likely to work.
But there’s something else going on here I want to point out, and it goes back to collapsing the distinction between sex, pregnancy, and abortion. O’Reilly wants this to be solely about the oversight that often leads to an unintended pregnancy. They did something he considers wrong, though he is cryptic about whether or not it’s just the sex or the contraception failure that’s making him so mad. And he sees abortion as somehow excusing that mistake. He’s so eager to condemn abortion for being a get-out-of-slut-jail-free card that he doesn’t even deal with the fact that he thinks the proper punishment for what he deems irresponsibility is forced childbirth.
This is where I will never understand anti-choice blather, especially targeted at women who get abortions. If they’re so irresponsible, then why is it such a great idea for them to be mothers? O’Reilly seems to be suggesting that any mistake ever made should never be addressed with damage control measures. That’s basically the least practical theory of all time. Should we remove seat belts from cars, to make sure that people pay for occasional driving mistakes with their lives? Personally, I don’t think you can characterize a person’s entire relationship to responsibility by a single contraception mistake. After all, the main woman portrayed on the show usually uses contraception. All it takes is once.
I found it interesting what reel the “O’Reilly Factor” put together from the MTV special in order to demonstrate O’Reilly’s assertion that it “glorifies” abortion.
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So, here’s what you’re supposed to be offended by: 1) A TV authority stating the plain facts that abortion is common and it’s safe 2) Women who’ve had abortions getting to speak about their experiences and feel less alone and 3) Describing women who’ve had abortions with any terms that might seem less than hateful. That MTV was honest and not hateful is the sum total of the objections to this program, something to consider if you see further attempts by anti-choicers to froth at the mouth about this.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, keeping it classy edition. Rush Limbaugh decided, for reasons that make no sense, to blather on aimlessly about the fact that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban recently had a baby with a gestational carrier.
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Nice work. He took potshots at women who want to have babies that can’t, women that are willing to carry babies for someone else, and women that can have babies but don’t want to. Is there a category of women that he missed? Whatever you’re doing with your body, Limbaugh clearly thinks it’s wrong.